In less than 24 hours the NFL season kicks off, and it couldn’t come at a better time. This Presidential election coverage is getting to be too much, and I think we all need a little sports to break up the madness. Yes, deciding on the next leader of the free world is important, but enough is enough. Let’s shift our focus to a topic that EVERYONE enjoys: Fantasy Football

Voodoo Brown hasn’t posted much content on this site since the end of last football season. Partly because Voodoo is not the biggest Giants fan, and when they won the Superbowl with a mediocre team (again) he went into a deep depression and became addicted to Whiskey & Oxycontin. The other reason is because this site is fantasy football first & foremost, and that’s what we will be bringing to you every week. Our weekly features will include: Start & Sit, Waiver Wire adds, Weekly Office Pool picks, CJ’s Picks of the Week, Mike Procopio’s NFL Power Rankings, and of course, Darren DeGaetano’s weekly musings. Also, if you have any tough start/sit decisions and you want an educated outsider’s opinion, feel free to drop an email to: vb@voodoobrown.com

Start & Sit Picks for Week 1:

Arian Foster, already on the injury report (Getty Images)

Let’s start this out by addressing the injury report. As you all should know by now, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, and Adrian Peterson are notable producers on the injury report with a real chance of not playing in Week 1. We all knew about AP coming into the season, but Foster & Lynch, the #1 overall pick and 2nd rounder (respectively) in most leagues unexpectedly appeared on the report this week. Let the headaches begin. They are both game time decisions, with Foster nursing a knee, and Lynch having back spasms. Lynch’s issue is NOT a good one, considering how punishing of a running style he has. Even if he feels good to play, I don’t know how you can start him with confidence. He could have a flare-up, and they will pop in a more than capable backup in Robert Turbin. They say Foster will play, but Ben Tate owners are feeling like they got a steal if this turns into a bigger issue. Oh, and if your team is bad enough to have to play Jonathan Stewart, he is questionable with a knee injury. DeAngelo Williams is the starter anyway, but he usually splits 50/50 with Stewart. This makes Mike Tolbert slightly more appealing, but only if you are in a very deep league, a TD-only league (do they still exist?) or have an absolutely terrible team.

There are a lot of players that won’t be mentioned in this column. You will obviously start Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady. I’m not completely sold on Cam Newton this year, but he was drafted high, and this week he will probably deliver. So you’ll start him as well. If you have a starting running back in the top 20, you are going to start them. This includes Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, and Matt Forte. Keep an eye on Foster though, as noted above. Obvious WRs include Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, AJ Green, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Wes Welker. Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and to a lesser degree Antonio Gates & Jermichael Finley are automatic starts at TE.
 
 
PLAYERS TO START
Matthew Stafford, QB Detroit Lions: Not unanimously considered an elite fantasy QB (yet). One reason might be his durability. That’s all I can think of though. He’s right on the cusp of being an automatic starter, and if he can shake off a few big hits without coming up gimpy, I think more people will confidently put him in the Brees/Brady/Rodgers fantasy category. The guy is a stud, and should put up at least 300 & 3-4TDs against the Rams.

Jay Cutler, QB Chicago Bears: Should be a solid year for Cutler, especially with the addition of Brandon Marshall.

Toby Gerhart, RB Minnesota Vikings: Play Gerhart while he’s the guy. As soon as Peterson is almost ready, they will unnecessarily rush him back. Gerhart should put up very nice numbers in the interim, and might turn into good trade bait for those AP owners.
Update @ 11:00am on 9/9/12: Peterson will play, probably getting about 10 touches. Although this is discouraging, we still like Gerhart to put up some decent numbers today and is still worthy of a start in a flex.

Kevin Smith, RB Detroit Lions: While his ankles are still in one piece, you might as well get some points out of him. If he was durable he’d be a top 5 back.

Someone has to emerge in the Steelers’ backfield, right? (Jason Bridge, US Presswire)

Jonathan Dwyer, RB Pittsburgh Steelers: It doesn’t look like Redman is totally healthy. Mendenhall is doubtful. Denver’s run D is not good… He’s in line for a big game. If he puts up huge numbers, you might be able to flip him to a Steelers fan in your league for another stud… or hold onto him and see if he’s the real deal.
Update @ 11:00am on 9/9/12: Isaac Redman is getting the start after all. I still like Dwyer to emerge, but if this is going to be a split situation coming out the gate, then I would downgrade him quite a bit. You were probably going to put him in your flex, so I would go with a better option if you have one – ie, Kevin Smith or Nate Washington caliber or higher.

Antonio Brown, WR Pittsburgh Steelers: There is a lot of talk about Mike Wallace becoming the go to guy once he gets back up to playing speed, but I like Brown much better since he’s multi-dimensional. Wallace is deceptively the fastest WR in the game (although DeSean Jackson seems faster to me), but Antonio is that Wes Welker type of WR, able to catch the ball anywhere. He is so tough to cover in the open field. I like him much more than Wallace this week, and all season.

Eric Decker, WR Denver Broncos: Another guy that has been receiving enough attention to almost make him overvalued, I still think I roll the dice this week & start him.

Brandon Marshall, WR Chicago Bears: I’m pretty big on all Bears this weekend. Marshall should put up some numbers, and he should soon be back in the category of automatic starts.

Steve Smith, WR Carolina Panthers: Former Elite WR – turned irrelevant WR – turned elite WR? Last year he showed some promise that he still can be a weekly stud. I think they come out firing, look for a big game from the original Steve Smith.

Titus Young, WR Detroit Lions: Going against the Rams, I think every 1st stringer on the Lions should start. Chances are one of their guys doesn’t put up big numbers, but you need to play the odds. There will be well over 300 yards and 3-4 TDs in the air in this game.

Nate Washington, WR Tennessee Titans: Such a boring, painful decision to start him. But he has good chemistry with Locker and was a 1000 yard receiver last year. The Pats pass D was terrible last year, and on top of that they will probably score a ton of points on the Titans, forcing Tennessee to throw. No Kenny Britt, so expect a heavy dose of Nate Washington and…

Jared Cook, TE Tennessee Titans: I was tempted to put him in the sleeper category, but I think he’s established enough to consider starting. I think you will see a breakout year for Cook, and this game could be the start of it.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE Detroit Lions: See Titus Young.
 
 
SLEEPER PICKS
Joel Dreessen, TE Denver Broncos: He’s officially passed Jacob Tamme on the depth chart. Not sure how much stock to put in that, but he seems to be the more talented of the two. He is a slightly bigger red zone target at 6’4″ 245, as compared to Tamme (6’3″, 236)… and has much better downfield ability. Even if you don’t start him, you might want to grab him off the waiver wire in case he has a big week.

Rod Streater might be worth at least stashing on your bench (Cary Edmondson, US Presswire)

Alfred Morris, RB Washington Redskins: There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding him in the past week or so, so he’s not a completely unknown sleeper at this point. And knowing Shanahan’s tendency to shuffle unknown RBs, he’s probably not a long-term solution. But he’s the healthiest of the bunch, and is the kind of runner that can do some damage against a crappy Saints run D. RG3 is playing in his first game, in the Saints Dome, so they will most likely want to have a balanced attack for the rookie QB AND try to keep the ball out of Brees’ hands. The gamble here is that Brees drops 21 points on the Skins in the first quarter, making the running game obsolete. I think you can count on a solid game from Alfred though.

Rod Streater, WR Oakland Raiders: With Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore banged up and potentially sitting out, the rookie out of Temple could see a bigger role as a starter. He’s already their slot receiver, and in today’s NFL, this typically means a ton of receptions. Don’t be surprised to see him haul in 6-8 catches, making him very startable WR in a PPR league.
 
 
PLAYERS TO SIT
Mike Vick, QB Philadelphia Eagles: He’s not a terrible option. Chances are, though, you have another decent QB option this week. If you have Philip Rivers or even Matt Ryan I would start them over Vick. The Browns are not good, but their defense isn’t bad, and they have a tendency to make games ugly. Couple that with the Eagles probably protecting Vick by giving a heavy dose of the run this week, and you have the makings of a very pedestrian game by Vick.

Marshawn Lynch, RB Seattle Seahawks: Even if he does play, I am benching him. For reasons stated above, the guy has had back spasms in the past, and they are surfacing again. He might go in for a series then decide he can’t play. Not worth the risk if you have other depth on your bench

Adrian Peterson, RB Minnesota Vikings: Like Marshawn, even if he does play I would not even take the chance of having him put up a goose egg.

Jamaal Charles, RB Kansas City Chiefs: One year removed from a knee injury AND having a split situation with Peyton Hillis does not bode well for a Week 1 start. I’d wait and see how much he’s used. If you have a better option, go with it.

Brandon Lloyd, WR New England Patriots: Lots of mouths to feed in New England. Let’s see how the Gronk-Hernandez-Welker distribution shakes out first before you put him in your starting lineup.

Any start/sit questions?
Email: vb@voodoobrown.com
Facebook: facebook.com/voodoobrown
Twitter: @VoodooBrown

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Voodoo Brown
Voodoo Brown started playing fantasy football way back in 1994 — when you had to manually add up scores with the Monday edition of USA Today (yes, that’s how it was done). Since that time, he has amassed 16 championships and 7 runner-ups, with most of his success coming after 2003 (avg. participation of 2-3 leagues per year). These accomplishments are evidence that Voodoo steadily adjusts to the ebbs & flows of the ever-changing fantasy landscape. It’s a different game now than it was in 1994 — hell, even 2004. Rarely finishing as a doormat, Voodoo’s teams are always in the mix. If you want any roster or lineup feedback, you can message him at vb@voodoobrown.com, or hit him up on Facebook or Twitter (@VoodooBrown)

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